Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Straight Up, No Chaser... Please???

"In my job I work with people who lie to me all the time, and some of them are bishops."

Thus a priest confided in me a few years back, one who deals with bishops from all over the country. So a twist in a recent story came as no surprise to me. This is the short version:

Marc Balestrieri is a canon lawyer from the USA. He is preparing to file a formal suit against Senator John Kerry, on charges of heresy, for publicly supporting legalized abortion while claiming to be a practicing Catholic. While Kerry's pubic actions may have already incurred an automatic excommunication, the seriousness of the matter, combined with his public position, have provoked calls for a formal declaration from his bishop.

So Balestrieri went to Rome, to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, seeking clarification for his position. His appointment was with Father Augustine Di Nola, OP, the undersecretary. Di Nola referred him to a Father Basil Cole, OP, who said he was "delegated" by Di Nola to be consulted. An extended exchange between Balestrieri and Cole ensued.

After carefully checking his facts and clearing what was said by whom with everyone involved, Balestrieri went public.

Now we're off to the races!

No sooner is the cat out of the bag, than officials at the department in Rome quickly move to disassociate themselves from any statement, however unofficial it may have been. According to Di Nola, Balestrieri's "claim that the private letter he received from Dominican Father Basil Cole is a Vatican response is completely without merit."

Is that what he claimed? Did he have to for the statement to have merit?

Like I said, this is the short version. Mr Balestrieri's defense of his actions, including who said what to whom and when and how, is on the website. Say what you will, it's a more complete and forthcoming explanation than anything coming out of Rome lately. Various press accounts, including two that appear to go back and forth within 24 hours (one from the Catholic News Service), are available on the Cruxnews website.

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